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Although Pasco County is no longer accepting glass for recycling, the recycling program still reduces the flow of waste to the county’s resource recovery facility in the Shady Hills area, which burns garbage to produce electricity, county officials say.

NEW PORT RICHEY – Pasco commissioners addressed apparent confusion regarding changes to the county’s solid waste program, including recycling.

At the County Commission’s July 9 meeting, Commissioner Mike Moore told fellow commissioners he had heard from numerous constituents blaming the commission for raising the rates for residential garbage and recycling collection.

Commissioner Wells said his waste haulers were trying to help, by writing in marker on his trash container, noting he had included cardboard, which he could set out on recycling day.

Moore complained the haulers had been telling customers to call commissioners about their rate concerns and Wells recommended haulers develop and distribute a form explaining to customers how they will work under the new policy.

That has led to the conclusion that there are many Pasco County residents still confused over exactly what changes are taking place and why.

Last month, the commission approved an ordinance which changed the weekly garbage pickup to include weekly residential recycling pickup.

The ordinance also gave haulers up to 90 days from its June 4 passage to begin the new schedule.

Commissioners also voted to increase the cap on how much the waste haulers could charge from $12.44 to $16.81.

Brendan Fitterer, county public information officer, said while the county is not responsible for the specific fees and schedules set by the individual haulers, it is understandable the transition time may cause some questions and require some clarifications.

“We understand it’s frustrating when service costs rise,” Fitterer said. “However, this is the first increase to the allowable rate cap in Pasco in 10 years and it was necessary for two reasons: to keep up with the rising costs of the trash hauling business; and to provide customers with weekly recycling collection.”

The county, Fitterer stressed, has “only raised the maximum amount private haulers can charge customers.”

“Each hauler then sets the rate they charge,” Fitterer said. “Haulers can choose to set a rate lower than the price cap to offer competitive pricing and attract new customers. This is the goal of an open market collection system.”

He also noted Pasco customers are free to choose from any waste hauler that provides service in their area.

In some communities, community development districts or homeowner associations have contracts with particular haulers, Fitterer said. “These groups can also negotiate prices directly with any hauler that provides services in the area.”

With some questions remaining as to why glass is no longer accepted for recycling, Fitterer said the county has found there is no market in the state for recycled glass and processing and transport costs for glass have begun to exceed $100,000 annually.

Fitterer said residents also have the option to bring up to six bags a day of household trash and recyclables to one of two locations: 14606 Hays Road, in the Shady Hills area, and 9626 Handcart Road, in Dade City. The service is free of charge.

“Recycling helps reduce the burden on the county’s Waste-to-Energy facility and prevents unnecessary items from being dumped in a landfill,” Fitterer said. “Recycling helps protect the environment, so we hope everyone takes part.”

More information about changes to Pasco County’s recycling program are available at bit.ly/PascoRecyclingFAQ.